Autism organizations around the world banded together Tuesday to celebrate the sixth annual World Autism Awareness Day
, led by Autism Speaks and its Light It Up Blue campaign.
More than 3 million Americans are living with autism spectrum disorders
, and the Autism Speaks advocacy campaign seeks to raise funds and increase awareness of the developmental disorder. One way is through the Light It Up Blue initiative, in which corporate sponsors, retailers, corporations, and even private citizens show their support for autism by shining blue lights.
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"Growing prevalence rates demand that we increase our support for autism," Suzanne and Bob Wright, co-founders of Autism Speaks, said in a release. "With this year's Light It Up Blue campaign we hope to go beyond awareness and fundraising, and make our greatest impact yet by inspiring leaders in government to implement the national plan for increased funding, services, and support that is so desperately needed."
On Tuesday, iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and George Washington Bridge in New York City, Niagara Falls in Canada, and Burj Al Arab in Dubai were shining bright blue lights in support of autism awareness.
Corporate sponsors are also running autism campaigns throughout the month of April.
• Toys"R"Us, Inc. is conducting its "Shine A Light For Autism" fundraising campaign between April 1 and April 30 at more than 870 Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/AutismSpeaks.
• The MLB is partnering with Autism Speaks throughout Autism Awareness Month. All 30 MLB Clubs will raise awareness for the disorder during one home game in April, or on another date during the regular season.
• For the fourth consecutive year, the NBA and its teams will raise fan awareness about autism through a variety of activities at arenas and games. In addition, Nets star Deron Williams is teaming up with Autism Speaks in an effort to raise awareness.
• At the Home Depot, $1 per blue light bulb sold between March 1 and April 30 will benefit Autism Speaks.
• Throughout the month of April, select Panera Bread stores in West Virginia, western Pennsylvania, and Columbus, Ohio, will be selling puzzle piece shortbread cookies, of which 100 percent of proceeds will benefit Autism Speaks.
Supporters are urged to support the cause by either taking part of Light It Up Blue, donating to Autism Speaks, or signing a petition on LightItUpBlue.org.
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